Interview: Brenda Drake, YA author

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air-force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memory growing up is that of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tall tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting bookstores and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappoint).

Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She’s represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February, 2014 by Month9Books and visit her here.

Let’s check out Brenda’s answers to the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Today, and each day where my family and friends are healthy and around to enjoy it with me.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
In My Life by The Beatles. I can’t narrow in on a specific memory of when I first heard it. I just know that it fits life perfectly. I’m sure one of the many adults in my life had played it sometime while I was growing up.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to heal. No one would ever be sick again. Of course, I’d be swamped with people stopping by to cure things and stuff. But I’d make tons of friends in the process.

On what occasion do you lie?
Only when it is necessary. There are just times when the truth doesn’t do anyone any good.

What is your present state of mind?
Peaceful. I’m contently happy with my large cup of coffee, at the computer writing, my hubby beside me doing that top secret thing he does, and the Wild Kingdom (aka cats and a dog who thinks he’s a cat) perched on my desk or nestled at my feet.

What is your motto?
Accept gifts. Give back. Be compassionate.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Acceptance, because I can be off the wall sometimes and they have to understand and accept my unique humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome. Is there a better verb than that? I don’t think so.

Your favorite painting?
Mona Lisa, because the girl looks like she just woke up and didn’t do her hair or makeup. No cares, she’s still loved by masses.

Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-05

What is your favorite journey?
To the coffee pot. It’s short and rewarding at the end. But seriously, going to Anne Frank’s annex in Amsterdam was one of my favorites. It makes one very grateful for a peaceful life.

What is your favorite time of day?
Morning. Coffee and writing, need I say more.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Dr. Seuss. I really want to know what went on in his mind. How did he come up with all those stories and make them rhyme? All is right in the world when I read his many books at night to the girls. I feel like a kid again and wonder, oh the thinks I can think.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
This is a tough one. I could die happy today.

Who or what is your first love?
My grandfather. He was such a giving man, and everyone loved him. He showed compassion to all and helped whoever he could when they were down. I still hear his pockets full of change jingling around me, as if he’s letting me know he’ll always watch over me.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I’m not sure I should repeat that here. Ha! No, seriously, I don’t know what are dreams or just my head playing out stories I want to write.

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of Christmas cookies baking. It reminds me of the many years of decorating parties with the ones I love. So many great times and laughs.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Family.

Interview: Krista Van Dolzer, YA writer and Mother.Write.(Repeat.) blogger

Krista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a writer by naptime. She holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University but tries not to talk–or write–like a mathematician. If she’s not typing away on the computer, she’s probably watching college football or wiping someone’s nose. She lives with her husband and three young kids in Mesquite, Nevada and is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary. Visit her fabulous blog here.

Now let’s see how she answered the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A lazy fall day with my family, good food, and a little time for writing.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
You know, I’m not a huge music person, so I don’t really have a favorite. Does silence count?

Which talent would you most like to have?
I quite like writing, but I really wish I could paint.

On what occasion do you lie?
Since we just spent the evening trying to teach our five-year-old honesty, I think I’m going to have to pass on this one.

What is your present state of mind?
A little addled. Said five-year-old had a bad day today, so I’m still recovering.

What is your motto?
See other people the way that God sees them. Try to help them on their way. And don’t compare your journey to theirs.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
The ability to be both harsh and encouraging–and to know which one I need when.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
In real life, “You know?” In writing, “just,” “that,” and “snorted.”

Your favorite painting?
Ooh, that’s a tough one for someone who almost minored in Art History. I can’t narrow it down to just one, so I’ll say that my favorite art movement is Impressionism.

Impression Sunrise, 1872
Claude Monet

What is your favorite journey?
Any journey I make for the first time.

What is your favorite time of day?
Late afternoon, when the light is golden and syrupy and slants horizontally through the windows.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
As cliche as it sounds, I’d love to get together with Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. They’re remarkable women, at once strong and dignified. (Oh, and I don’t drink coffee, so I’d have to convince them to share a hot chocolate.)

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I’d really love to publish a book someday, but even if I don’t, I’ll still die happy as long as I’ve lived well.

Who or what is your first love?
My first love turned out to be the man that I married, so he’s my last love, too:)

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was substituting a high school English class and had no idea what I was supposed to be teaching. The kids picked up on my nervousness and managed to get me rambling, and before I knew it, the bell was ringing and the kids were leaving and I felt like a moron.

What’s your madeleine?
My madeleine is that warm, musty smell that blows out of the AC when you first turn your car on. You’d think it would be gross, but it always transports me to the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland:)

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Happiness.

Interview: Bree Ogden, Literary Agent at D4EO

Bree Ogden joined D4EO in November 2011, after having been an associate literary agent at Martin Literary Management for nearly 2 years representing children’s, YA, and graphic novels.

Bree graduated with her BA in Philosophy from Southern Virginia University where she served as editor-in-chief of the University’s newsmagazine. She was awarded Most Valuable Player and Editor of the Year, as well as SVU’s Pioneer Award, an honor the University awards to two students each year. She then received her MA in Journalism with an emphasis in editing and expository writing at Northeastern University where she worked on both the New England Press Association Bulletin, and also served as the features editor of the premier campus music magazine, Tastemakers Magazine.

Over a year ago, Bree and her partner-in-crime cum best friend, Rebekah Joy Plett, started the macabre children’s magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree (named after the Grimm fairy tale, Juniper Tree) where she serves as Editorial Director. This labor of love has gained a nice little following––read the issues here––and they are in the process of creating and fundraising for a printed Anthology (donate through their IndieGogo account).

Bree is also an instructor and columnist for the Web site LitReactor.com where she teaches Intro to Graphic Novel Writing. Bree is also the newest judge for the Ghastly Awards–Honoring Excellence in Horror Comics.

She loves Frankenstein’s monster, heels so high she can’t walk, and honey bees.

Let’s see how Bree answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Success. Not just in work or achievements. But in all aspect of life. Even in little things like having a successful hair day. Making a successful meal. So I guess what I am trying to say is I can only be happy if I’m perfect, haha. No, really, I just find it incredible pleasing to work at something and have it be a success. Love probably being one of the most important successes in life.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Brighton Rock by Queen. The first compact disc I ever bought was Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack at Zia Records (the coolest place because they sold Manic Panic hair dye and tongue rings). I threw that puppy in my Discman, and Queen has been my favorite band ever since. Brighton Rock being my favorite song. I know it must be the sensory and emotional association, because it’s not their best song.

Which talent would you most like to have?
So many. Too many. I’m talent greedy. I used to be in a few garage bands… I think if I had to choose a talent it would be to have been in a successful band? Though I’m not sure that qualifies as a singular talent. Okay, how about this: I choose harp. And not like orchestral harp, like Joanna Newsom harp. Have you watched her play? Oh. My. Gosh. She may not be the best harpist, but she knows how to evoke so much emotion when playing. Such an amazing talent. Can being Joanna Newsom be a “talent”?

On what occasion do you lie?
When my mom asks me if I like her hair.

What is your present state of mind?
Pensive. A bit plaintive. I just saw the film Looper (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis) last night and my heart hurts a bit, in that (kind of) good way, you know? Sometimes I feel too deeply. It’s the curse of being the baby of the family. Anyway, that film made me feel deeply. I’m still shaken up.

What is your motto?
Creativity is just another word for courage.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty. I’m quite ridiculous and selfish in this regard. I expect my best friend to be loyal to me even if I am being completely ridiculous. I will ALWAYS ultimately realize when I am being ridiculous. But when I am in the moment, and I want to pout, and be unreasonable, I want to know my best friend will stick by me.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Literally” (who doesn’t overuse this?), “seriously,” “that’s the most ridiculous thing in the entire world,” “I will stick forks in your eyeballs if you don’t ____” (Yea I really use that one WAY too much. Ask my poor boyfriend.)

Your favorite painting?
This is quite literally an impossible question to answer. I am a visual art fanatic. I absolutely cannot choose one favorite. I CAN tell you that my favorite types of art are Tudor art, 18th-century French art, Pop Surrealism, Installation, and Low-brow. Right now, I love love love “The Fountain” by Mr. Ryden.

The Fountain
Mark Ryden

What is your favorite journey?
Literally? Well, I live in a bay on a little island off the west coast of Seattle. My favorite journey is to take one of my kayaks and travel down this narrow, wooded, creepy little passage that takes about 40 minutes round trip. If you go right when the sun is going down, when it is a little cold outside, bring your iPod and listen to some Max Richter… it’s chilling (figuratively, sometimes literally, too), stunning, and creepy. My figurative favorite journey is starting a new book. Cliche? Sure. But it’s true.

What is your favorite time of day?
It varies. It’s always at dusk. But dusk can be at 10 pm or at 3 pm (seriously). I work better with the promise of nightfall. I come alive at night.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Shannon McFarland from Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters. She’s a very complex character. A contradiction in every way. A beautiful thinker. Wanted what she never had, but in an anti-selfish way.

I wanted the everyday reassurance of being mutilated. The way a crippled deformed birth-defected disfigured girl can drive her car with the windows open and not care how the wind makes her hair look, that’s the kind of freedom I was after. I was tired of staying a lower life form just because of my looks. Trading in on them. Cheating. Never getting anything real accomplished, but getting the attention and recognition anyway. Trapped in a beauty ghetto is how I felt. Stereotyped. Robbed of my motivation.

There are too many people that could be described by the attributes of her quote above. None of them have the guts to admit it, or take responsibility for it. And that about sums up why I’d want to meet Shannon McFarland.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I can’t answer this questions because I won’t know what it is until I achieve it.

Who or what is your first love?
Here’s a cliche for you. My first love was this tortured, philosophical, totally-brilliant-with-no-ambition musician. He was so messed up but so beautiful inside and out. He’s still my best friend so I can say that about him. He had this dark curly hair and bright blue eyes. Wrote messed up songs about his messed up mind. Looked down when he walked around campus. That sort of thing. When he was younger he carried a rolled up copy of a magazine with Bob Dylan on the cover in his back pocket and re-read the article over and over again. I remember finding this so out-of-touch that it was so insanely in touch. He’s a lovely human being. My first love.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I think I was making out with Shia LaBeouf. He often makes sexual appearances in my dreams.

What’s your madeleine?
I don’t enjoy ones dipped in chocolate. Or lemon madeleines. But dipped in espresso like a tiramisu, or once I had madeleines with fruit and clotted cream (a little bit of England and France). That was probably my favorite.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Unfathomable.